Love Devon? Well we definitely do! If you are looking for somewhere new or different to explore then check out our 7 favourite hidden places worth a visit around Dartmoor.
Dramatic Castle Drogo
Although this wonderful National Trust castle has major conservation work going on, it is still open for business with a chance to go behind the scenes. The castle has been redisplayed by three artists, and reveals a new side of Drogo’s remarkable story. The viewing towers are a must to get a closer look at this magnificent castle, which was the last one to be built in England. There are also beautiful Lutyens-designed terraced garden with dramatic views across Dartmoor. You will also come across the beautiful rose garden with an adorable Wendy House complete with its own miniature garden. You could go further afield and explore Teign Valley and take one of the marked paths, discovering the beautiful wildlife on the way along the river. This is always a spectacular place to visit with spectacular views and they do great cream teas in the café.
Adorable Miniature Pony Centre
A great centre for those mad about horses and ponies. Plus there are other adorable creatures such as the cute animals in the pet paddock and the gorgeous birds in the walk-in aviary. The best time to visit is in the spring when you can pet the young foals and see them with their mums. There’s lots more to entertain the little ones with trampolines, zip wires, soft play area and a large climbing area. There are beautiful parkland and gardens to stroll around and discover the various insects and butterflies amongst the flowers and plants, or enjoy the spectacular view from the top of the Stallion Paddock Walk. It’s definitely a great day out for animal lovers and you can relax in the café and watch the miniature ponies while you lunch.
Rolling South Devon Railway
Discover the beautiful South Devon countryside and take a steam train along the stunning valley of river Dart. The trains run regularly from Buckfastleigh to Totnes and the journey takes you through beautiful unspoilt countryside. There is also a fabulous museum in Buckfastleigh with historic steam and diesel locomotives and a wide range of artefacts, including photographs, posters and timetables. The Expressway model and gift shop is a must as you can see their model railway. While you are there you can visit the Dartmoor Otters & Buckfast Butterflies centre and Buckfast Abbey is nearby. We loved this day out as the train journey is ideal for all weathers and Totnes is also worth a visit and Totnes Rare Breeeds Farm is right next to the station.
Historic Fairground Heritage Trust
A fabulous place and a great trip down memory lane. The 45,000 square feet indoor centre boasts a wealth of historical fairground items with lavish carvings and gilded artwork. You can admire the beautiful vintage caravans, rides and stalls as well as find out more about the people behind them. The heritage centre is steeped in history with working and static fairground exhibits, industrial and road steam engines, vintage vehicles, roadsigns, and assorted vintage machinery. Our favourite part of the visit is going on the vintage rides and traditional games.
Stunning Canonteign Falls and Country Park
A little gem that has something for everyone! It’s only take a 45 minute drive from Torquay to discover this beautiful country park with one of the highest waterfalls in England. It’s great for nature lovers with a fabulous secret garden plus the children can find out more about the wildlife with their fun interpretation boards. Don’t forget to take a stroll around the tranquil lily lake and feed the birds. You may even see a kingfisher or two! It definitely makes our list as there are great views across South Devon, a great play area for the kids with trampolines, a zip wire and mini assault course plus after all that hard work you can have a refreshing cup of tea in the Home Farm Café.
The Splendours of Powderham Castle
A fun day out for the family with lots of things to do throughout the day and not far from Exeter. The castle is set in beautiful acres of gardens and grounds and great for nature lovers who want to roam the vast estate visiting the Rose Garden, deer park, Woodland Garden and even down to the riverbanks. If you fancy the breathtaking views, climb the Belvedere tower and you can see for miles. To view inside the castle you will need to join one of the guided tours but it’s worth it just to see the majestic rooms and hear stories of its six hundred years of history. There are also lots of things to keep the little ones busy with a play area, pets corner, treasure and nature trails and even themed weeks throughout the school holidays. This place gets our vote for it’s magnificent setting, lots of activities for the kids and you can just take a picnic and enjoy the surroundings during the spring, summer or autumn. We also loved the idea you could have a free visit within 7 days. Fascinating Dartmoor Zoo
A jewel in Dartmoor set in 33 acres of beautiful woodland with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. You may already know the zoo from Hollywood film We bought a Zoo starring Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson or the BBC series Ben’s Zoo which reveals the fascinating story of the Mee family and their struggle to buy a zoo. Although the zoo is smaller than Paignton Zoo it is more intimate and there is still lots to see including tigers, lions, jaguar, lynx and cheetah, bears, wolves, tapir, capybara, racoons, meerkats and monkeys. This got our vote as it’s a great place to visit for half a day, then enjoy a pub lunch and explore the moors in the afternoon.
Have we missed any places? We would love to hear what you have to say. Share your stories and adventures! Keep an eye out for our next blog on more things to do and places to visit in Devon.
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